Saturday, July 16, 2005

Acts 13:26-43

In this section of Acts, Luke records Paul's preaching in Pisidian Antioch: I have good news! God's promise of salvation has been fulfilled for ALL through the resurrection of Jesus! But beware; do not reject God's work in Christ. Believe!

Thousands of years later, Paul's warning is still necessary, even to professed believers.

The degree to which one believes is visible through his or her actions. With nonbelief, there is often blatant sin -- fraud, embezzlement, murder, etc. When belief is weak, there is the potential for casual sin -- lying, using bad language, etc. But when belief is true, there is a sincere attempt to obey God's Commandments -- all of them!

The degree to which people believe is also visible as death approaches. I often recall my friends from Sommerset, Maria, Edna, Arline, Lucille, Mary, Lucy, and Eve. They strongly believed that God's promise was fulfilled in Jesus, and they lived their lives accordingly. They worshipped together. They supported each other. And when the time came to depart from this life and to enter into the next, they were at peace. They were ready. I contrast that with Julio, my parents' neighbor in Texas. Julio is a baptized and confirmed Christian. He isn't expected to live beyond next week. Unfortunately, the illness that attacked his body exposed the weakness of his belief. As his body grew weaker, the doubt which heretofore had been subtle, a shadow, an afterthought, suddenly emerged and became strong, and it grew until it crushed his fragile belief. Now, instead of joyfully anticipating an eternity with God, Julio is angry, bitter, and alone.

But it's not too late for Julio. If you are reading this, you probably don't need help with your belief. However, I'm sure you know of someone who, like Julio, needs help with his or hers.

Dear God, please help us minister to those who believe weakly or not at all. We pray especially for Julio, that he may regain his belief, reconcile with You, and die in peace. Amen.

Martha Olson

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